Post-Podcast Discussion: Ancient Egyptian Feminists and Manhattan Purchase


The latest SYMHC podcasts made available to you, our devoted listeners, were about ancient Egyptian feminists and whether the Dutch really traded Manhattan for nutmeg.

In the podcast about ancient Egypt, we discussed whether evidence such as a healthy handful of female rulers, property rights for women and Herodotus' observations of women trading in the marketplace while men toiled away at home added up to the grand conclusion that this was the first feminist culture. And we concluded that no, it was not. Life in ancient Egypt was pretty wonderful if you were a wealthy woman. If you were a lower-class citizen, you were not afforded these same progressive rights. This quick conclusion made for a less than riveting podcast, in my opinion, but the one about Manhattan surely made up for it.

We've had a couple of SYMHC listeners request a podcast about New Netherland, and after a half-dozen changes to the title to make the topic more palatable, we finally came up with this gem: Did the Dutch really trade Manhattan for nutmeg? Carrie Bradshaw, who claims to use her oven for storage, would quake in her Manolo Blahniks to think that anyone would trade the prosperous, bustling island of Manhattan for a common kitchen spice. But as we explained in the podcast, nutmeg was no ordinary spice. It was considered an aphrodisiac, antidote to the plague and the hottest commodity in the East Indies. He who monopolized the nutmeg trade monopolized the world!

We also tried to dispel a misconception in that podcast that the American Indians got a raw deal from the Dutch -- really, it seems that the indigenous people profited from the trade. What do you think?

The print behind the podcast: Were ancient Egyptians the first feminists? Did the Dutch really trade Manhattan for nutmeg? Nutmeg Did Egyptians really build the Sphinx?